Challenging economic times universally inspire people to make wise financial decisions. One culture that has always lived a stark but meaningful existence is the Amish. Increasingly, people are inspired by their lifestyle; and look for ways to simplify their own lives.
Lorilee Craker is the author of the new book, “Money Secrets Of The Amish-Finding True Abundance in Simplicity, Sharing and Saving.” She examines her practices, extravagant in peace, family and community closeness. For them, thrift is a muscle that is exercised regularly.
Craker interviewed Amish people in Indiana, Michigan and Pennsylvania, including an Amish banker whose clientele is 95 percent Amish. During the Great Recession of 2008, his bank had the best year in its history. Financial perspectives from Amish experts and Englishmen (Amish reference to anyone who is not Amish) also punctuate the book. Here, two Amish money-saving habits stand out: delayed gratification and spoiled children.
Delayed gratification. Delayed gratification is an admirable quality of the Amish, as they are great long-term thinkers. They are taught to work, save, and pay for the things they want.
Delayed gratification is challenging because the brain struggles to accept the exchange of instant pleasure (ie, eating or spending) for distant, abstract goals, like saving money for a rainy day.
To curb your impulse buying, define your goals. Clarity of purpose can help you say no to all sorts of things.
What is worth skimping on for you, a spring break? A new car? Once defined, you can aspire to one day have it by saying no to yourself regularly on a day-to-day basis.
Experts say our ability to practice delayed gratification begins when we’re young and parents establish rituals that require us to delay gratification on a daily basis.
Here’s a simple formula to calculate the true value of an item or experience before you buy it:
- Imagine a $100.00 item.
- Enter your income before taxes, for example, $40,000.
- Subtract 25 percent tax ($10,000).
- Divide the remainder ($30,000) by 2,000 (the hours you work in a year).
- At $15.00 an hour, you would need to work 7 hours for the article.
- Is it still worth it?
little indulgence. “No need to stop spending cold-turkey-just cold turkey,” Craker says. Track spending and say no to frivolous purchases often. Buying something casual and charming can help you sustain yourself in the long run.
Amish Money Makeover. Examine your bank statement and see how much money you’re wasting on impulse purchases.
Spoiled children. Children can be money pits. The Amish pass down their financial wisdom, including self-control, delayed gratification, and a sense of money, from generation to generation. The children of the English (anyone who is not Amish for the Amish) are raised in an individualistic society, which promotes materialism and consumerism.
Amish parents have the community to support them when they say no.
building satisfaction. The Amish teach their children to be content with what they have. Children do they perpetually want things, but they can be redirected. Amish children are not subjected to marketing messages on television since they do not watch television.
The Amish teach their children to be careful with their belongings and to pay attention to how they treat their things.
“Generation X parents don’t want to give their kids a moment of discomfort,” says Craker. “And saying no to what they want is awkward.”
Say no. Sometimes it’s just not no. A parent doesn’t need to explain why he says no. The Amish believe that a gift given too easily robs children of the joy of earning it themselves.
keep the kids busy. They won’t have downtime to think about all the things they want. The work is formative for the children.
Craker shares his six-point plan for “dispossessing” his children:
- Teach them to be content with what they already have.
- Show them how to discover savings and gifts.
- Help them distinguish between wants and needs.
- Say no regularly.
- Encourages delayed gratification.
- Teach them that hard work will not kill them and is beneficial.
Practice delayed gratification like the Amish and find that you are making wise financial decisions. Teach your children to appreciate what they already have instead of craving more possessions. Simple acts like these will improve your family’s life and help you prosper regardless of current economic conditions.
For more information about the Amish, visit http://www.AmishAmerica.com.